Emails obtained by the Heritage Foundation from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit reveal that the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened multiple times on behalf of Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss in relation to congressional inquiries concerning the Hunter Biden investigation.
This has prompted increased scrutiny over a letter dated June 7, 2023, where Weiss declared his “ultimate authority” over charging decisions pertaining to Hunter Biden.
The emails indicate that Weiss had inquired whether the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs had replied to a letter from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) from May 9, 2022, regarding the Hunter Biden investigation. The response from Shannon Hanson, one of Weiss’s lead assistant U.S. attorneys, suggested they hadn’t but that Joe Gaeta from the Office of Legislative Affairs was crafting a reply. Notably, even though the inquiry was solely addressed to Weiss, the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs eventually responded on his behalf, denying any answer to the questions raised.
Grassley and Johnson sent another letter the next month which also involved Weiss, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Again, the Office of Legal Counsel intervened, indicating they would “take the lead on drafting a response.”
The emails were the initial documents the Heritage Foundation received due to a court order from their FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ. Mike Howell of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project initiated the FOIA request and subsequently sued the DOJ. Howell suggests these emails show that Garland, while publicly supporting Weiss’s autonomy, was directing communications through the DOJ’s political controls.
Several exchanges between Weiss and House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) further raised eyebrows, especially concerning Weiss’s assertion of his authority in the Hunter Biden case. Despite Jordan’s letters being addressed to Attorney General Garland, Weiss responded on Garland’s behalf, reinforcing his position and authority.
However, these claims by Weiss raise questions. For instance, the June 7 letter, which Weiss purportedly drafted, wasn’t addressed to him. And based on the Heritage Foundation’s obtained emails, when such letters were directed at Weiss, the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs usually answered for him. There are also references in these communications which suggest that the letter might have been written from DOJ headquarters.
Howell pointed out the significant resistance they encountered in getting these emails, and anticipates more documents will be released by Oct. 31, which might shed more light on the Jordan correspondence unless House Republicans obtain them first via a subpoena.